Author(s): Carpenter LL, Tyrka AR, Ross NS, Khoury L, Anderson GM,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The dexamethasone/corticotropin releasing hormone (Dex/CRH) test has been proposed as a potential tool for identifying endophenotypes relevant to mood disorders. Several studies have shown abnormal cortisol reactivity in phenotypically healthy adults without psychiatric disorders as a function of exposure to adverse early environments. METHODS: After a battery of self-report and interview assessments, 230 adults without major Axis I Disorders completed the Dex/CRH test. Childhood maltreatment was evaluated with the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Effect of childhood emotional abuse (EA) on cortisol responses to the Dex/CRH test was examined with repeated measures general linear models, including age, gender, and other types of maltreatment. Post hoc models examined the significant interaction between EA and age and tested the stability of the main findings with selected covariates. RESULTS: A history of self-reported childhood EA independently and significantly diminished cortisol response. This effect was amplified with advancing subject age and was independent of the effects of other types of childhood maltreatment, lifetime diagnoses, and symptom scores. CONCLUSIONS: Dampened cortisol reactivity might be a consequence of childhood EA that is cumulative over time. Prospective longitudinal investigation is needed to evaluate the potential of this proposed endophenotype.
This article was published in Biol Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Depression and Anxiety